Ongoing doping scandal could lift Lassen’s Olympic result to fifth

Whitehorse’s Jeane Lassen didn’t get a good night’s sleep on Wednesday. Three months after learning her 2008 Olympic finish could move from eighth to seventh, she got a call from her mom Moira Lassen...

Whitehorse’s Jeane Lassen didn’t get a good night’s sleep on Wednesday.

Three months after learning her 2008 Olympic finish could move from eighth to seventh, she got a call from her mom Moira Lassen, an executive board member of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), telling her that result could jump another two spots.

“I got the call at 3:30 in the morning telling me I had gone from seventh to fifth and I lied awake in bed reliving those lifts in a way I haven’t before,” said Lassen. “When one more lift is the difference between fifth and the podium, it’s a different feeling. I imagine it’s the same as people who finish fourth at the Olympics feel.”

A second wave of urine retests conducted by the International Olympic Committee have implicated 15 more weightlifters from the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a doping scandal that has rocked the sport for months, the IWF announced this week.

Among the 15 are three weightlifting champions from China, including Cao Lei who won gold in the 75-kilogram weight class in which Lassen competed.

This week’s announcement also listed fourth place finisher Iryna Kulesha of Belarus and 11th place’s Hripsime Khurshudyan of Armenia, also from the 75-kilo class.

With the latest round of testing for banned substances, 11 weightlifters now face being stripped of their 2008 medals.

“In line with the relevant rules and regulations, the IWF imposed mandatory provisional suspensions upon the Athletes, who remain provisionally suspended in view of potential anti-doping rule violations until their cases are closed,” read a statement on the IWF website.

The IOC’s first round of urine retests — using methods unavailable at the time of the 2008 Games — took place in May and found evidence of doping among 31 Beijing Olympians, spanning 12 countries and six sports.

Among them was Russia’s Nadezhda Evstyukhina, the bronze medalist in Lassen’s weight class.

Lassen, who retired from competition in 2012, originally placed eighth with a combined total of 240 kilos, seven under her personal best. Evstyukhina took bronze with 245.

“Going from eighth to seventh was the start of it – it was a surprise,” said Lassen. “It’s neat to know that they are developing ways to test past results. They’ve come further and there’s more science and they can go back 10 years and find people who were cheating.

“Now it’s round two and there are two more positive tests and now I’m fifth — fifth by five kilos. If I had made one more lift, I would have been on the podium.”

More than just 2008 urine samples are being tested. Samples taken at the 2012 London Olympics are also being analyzed and the women’s 75-kilo class results are again among those in disarray. All three medalists from the weight class have tested positive for banned substances, including Kulesha, who won the bronze.

A weightlifter at the recent Rio Olympics has already been stripped of his medal after testing positive. Kyrgyzstan’s Izzat Artykov, who competed in the men’s 69-kilo division, lost his bronze.

A Mongolian lifter and 2012 Olympic champ Adrian Zielinski of Poland were also disqualified for positive tests in Rio.

“It’s a heartbreaking time for our sport, but it’s also a time where we can take a stand and make a change, clean things up,” said Lassen.

The IOC’s most recent test is actually just the second of four that are planned. So, theoretically, Lassen’s result could move up farther.

“There are four athletes ahead of me who potentially haven’t been tested. They haven’t announced who’s been tested and who hasn’t, they’ve just been revealing the retested positives,” said Lassen. “So there’s a possibility one or more of those athletes might test positive.”

Lassen, 35, who is a candidate the Yukon Liberal Party in the upcoming territorial election, had a remarkable bar-bending career.

She competed at six junior world championships and seven senior worlds, claiming hardware at both.

Lassen also won gold and set a Games record at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

She captured a total of nine medals at Pan American Championships between 2000 and 2008 and won 15 medals at the University World Championships between 1999 and 2005.

She retired from competition in 2009 but returned to the sport in 2011, winning silver at the Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships and taking 15th at the World Weightlifting Championships.

She then won gold at the 2012 Western Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships and made the Canadian team for the 2012 London Olympic Games, five days before a career-ending back injury.

“The great leveler for all athletes, no matter who you are or where you’re from, getting that lift in that moment, running that race in that moment, whatever it is, getting that technique, overcoming the fear and the excitement and the pressure, there’s nothing that can do that except your own will and determination,” she added.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen

xx
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

Most Read